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Silvopasture in the USA: A systematic review of natural resource professional and producer-reported benefits, challenges, and management activities
Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment  (IF5.567),  Pub Date : 2021-12-11, DOI: 10.1016/j.agee.2021.107818
Matthew M. Smith, Gary Bentrup, Todd Kellerman, Katherine MacFarland, Richard Straight, Lord Ameyaw, Susan Stein

Silvopasture is the deliberate integration of trees, forage, and grazing livestock on the same piece of land. These agroecosystems are intensively managed for multiple benefits, providing both short- and long-term income. Research suggests that silvopasture systems can increase systemwide productivity, while providing multiple ecosystem services. Due to these benefits, silvopasture adoption is increasing across the United States of America (USA), as described in regional case studies exploring silvopasture adoption. However, most of these case studies have a limited sample size, making it difficult to assess broader trends that help or hinder silvopasture adoption. To address this issue, we conducted a systematic review of silvopasture adoption studies in the USA. Our key objectives were to understand the primary benefits and challenges reported by producers using silvopasture, assess how satisfied producers are with their silvopasture systems, and understand how agricultural and natural resource professionals view silvopasture management. In total, 53 studies from 1983 to 2021 related to silvopasture adoption were included. When analyzed collectively, diversification of farm income and shade for livestock were the primary benefits of implementing silvopasture. This was similar to benefits reported from international studies that were compared. Regarding challenges, lack of information was identified as a primary concern by producers. Producers reported using a wide range of livestock that included cattle, goats, sheep, chickens, turkeys, horses, bison, pigs, geese, and ducks. Results indicate that producers almost exclusively use some form of rotational or management intensive grazing in their silvopasture systems, with 98% using one of these practices. Furthermore, 96% of producers reported using silvopasture in combination with paddocks in open pasture, suggesting that silvopastures are primarily used as a complementary component of their pasture rotation system. Silvopasture retention was also found to be high across studies, with 88% of producers indicating they would continue the practice into the future. With increasing interest to diversify agricultural management under the uncertainty of a changing climate and the need for agricultural landscapes to sequester more carbon, silvopasture may be an effective strategy for some livestock operators to diversify farm income, enhance animal productivity and wellbeing, and increase ecosystem resilience.